Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Duncan Keith out 4 to 6 weeks after knee surgery

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Blackhawks: Duncan Keith out 4 to 6 weeks after knee surgery

Duncan Keith has become as well known for his health and minutes played as much as his high level of play during those minutes.

There are times it seems he’s constantly on the ice – the 2015 postseason, when he played more than 715 total minutes, was a great example of that. The minutes have rarely effected the individual game, however, as Keith has consistently performed at a high level for many seasons.

Now one of the league’s most durable players is out for a month, and the Blackhawks are going to have to adjust fast.

Keith underwent successful surgery to repair a right knee meniscal tear, the Blackhawks announced on Tuesday morning. Keith, according to team physician Dr. Michael Terry, should be back within 4-6 weeks. Quenneville said he expects Keith to be ready in that time frame. Considering Keith’s fitness regimen, his teammates are expecting Keith back on schedule.

“He does everything right, on and off the ice. He’ll be doing everything he can to make sure that not only is he better in a quicker timeperiod, but he’s going to come back stronger and ready to go mentally and physically,” Jonathan Toews said. “For now, I don’t think we want him to put too much pressure on himself. It’s a long season and there will be plenty of hockey to play when he comes back, so we want him to be ready for that.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The defenseman played the entire game on Saturday, when the Blackhawks beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1. Coach Joel Quenneville said there was “no defining blow” in that game that led to Keith’s injury. Quenneville and Marian Hossa said Keith had been bothered by the injury – Hossa said he talked to Keith about it a few days ago – but neither knew how long Keith had been dealing with it.

Considering that, as tough as it is to lose Keith, it might be best if he takes care of the issue now instead of waiting for it to get worse.

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks are going to have to play the next few weeks without their top defenseman. They’ll miss him in all areas, from 5-on-5 to the power play to the penalty kill to the locker room. The Blackhawks have long focused on a defense-first mentality, for forwards and defensemen, and that’s doubly so now.

“We all have to be responsible in team game, with or without the puck,” Quenneville said. “A lot of defensemen are going to get a lot of responsibility, quality enhanced in their ice time as well. We don’t want to change our style of play. At the same time, we want to make sure we’re playing the right way.”

Hossa agreed.

“I think the good thing is everybody realizes, missing a player like that, not only the defense has to step up but the forwards,” he said. “That’s what we mean by back-checking, helping our D, helping our younger D to make it easier for them. That’s going to be important.”

Quenneville said it’s possible the Blackhawks place Keith on long-term injured reserve, which is for a player who will be out 24 days and 10 games. Keith carries a cap hit of $5.5 million per season. Fellow defenseman Michal Rozsival (ankle) is currently on LTIR and is due to come off at the end of this month.

The Blackhawks have gone without key players in previous seasons. The added wrinkle here is that it’s Keith, who is part of what’s now a very young defensive group. The Blackhawks will improvise, draw on past experiences and hopefully get a little bit more from everyone.

“When I went down, you saw this team win a lot of games 1-0, 2-1, they weren’t giving up a lot of goals, playing well defensively,” Patrick Kane said, referring to his collarbone fracture last February. “Maybe revert back to that, make sure we’re taking care of business on our side of the red line. It won’t be easy to replace him. But someone will get an opportunity to step up, whether it’s collectively as a D core or even us as forwards, to help kind of fill that void on the back end.”

 

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?